Many people carry out volunteering work to help get experience and learn skills to advance in their careers. Others volunteer to meet new people and make a positive impact in their community. But, among the many benefits of volunteering, one of the most interesting ones is the positive impact it can have on mental health.
When you help others, you get a sense of accomplishment that can have a substantial impact on your well-being. To achieve these benefits though, you should first find a cause that is important to you and define your goals. Once you are clear on why you want to volunteer, you will be able to find the opportunity that best matches your purpose. There are lots of possibilities, but some suggestions include improving your neighbourhood, teaching children, taking care of animals, or volunteering to charity.
Once you’ve chosen a cause, discover six ways your volunteer work can improve with your mental health:
Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose
Helping others can be extremely beneficial to take your mind off your own worries and keep you mentally stimulated. This is especially powerful if you have gone through a bad experience or are struggling to cope after a traumatic event. The right type of volunteering work can provide you with a new sense of purpose and add some zest to your life.
Volunteering can bring fulfilment to your life
Volunteering offers you the opportunity to escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. And it is a fun and easy way to explore new interests and passions that you wouldn’t uncover otherwise. This fresh perspective provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can bring great fulfilment to your life.
Volunteering can make you happy
By measuring hormones and brain activity, many studies have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense gratification. In this sense, giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping. And that also explains why the more we give, the happier we feel.
Volunteering can increase self-confidence
Doing good for others will provide you with a natural sense of accomplishment and will make you feel proud of yourself. This, in turn, will boost your self-confidence and strengthen your personal identity. And all these positive feelings are the first step towards better mental health.
Volunteering may reduce stress levels
A meaningful connection with another person is an excellent way to relieve stress. Working with animals has also been shown to improve mood, reduce stress levels, anger, and anxiety. It is also very beneficial for those with symptoms of bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Volunteering can help combat depression
Volunteering generally involves social interaction and keeps you in contact with others. In time, this social connectedness will help you build a support system based on shared interests, which has been shown to help fight depression.
Overall, volunteering cannot only make a huge difference in the life of others, but it can also benefit your own mental health and wellbeing. If you are determined to help others and want to make it your profession, you may want to study a course in community services or mental health. And you will learn how to counsel people with problems and make a real impact on their lives while developing a very rewarding career.
Image credit: Freepik
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.
The articles we publish on Psychreg are here to educate and inform. They’re not meant to take the place of expert advice. So if you’re looking for professional help, don’t delay or ignore it because of what you’ve read here. Check our full disclaimer.